(8 July/The Country)

Breakthrough research that was recently published in scientific journal International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal has shed light into how microbes can control methane levels in animals. The research was performed on two different types of sheep – one producing more amounts of methane than the other, and has suggested ways to help reduce the greenhouse gas. The findings suggested that methane emissions could be reduced by controlling the hydrogen supply. One strategy to solve this, is to introduce feed supplements that encourage non-methane producers to out compete micro-organisms that produced methane. Professor Greg Cook of the Otago microbiology and immunology department commented the discovery is important because methane produced by sheep and cattle account for around a third of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases and a solution to bring this down was long overdue.